Is Delhi heading for assembly polls?

Over a week after the party's victory in Maharashtra and Haryana assembly polls, Delhi BJP has conveyed to the party leadership its preference for facing fresh polls in the city than taking power without having a majority.

New Delhi: Over a week after the party's victory in Maharashtra and Haryana assembly polls, Delhi BJP has conveyed to the party leadership its preference for facing fresh polls in the city than taking power without having a majority.

BJP sources said the Delhi unit has started preparations for polls, preferably in January or February, and the Union government may soon indicate to Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to dissolve the assembly paving way for fresh elections.

They said the Centre may clarify its position on the political situation in Delhi before a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court tomorrow.

Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar on October 10 had informed the court that the Centre's stand on government formation in Delhi will be known after Diwali. Tomorrow is the next date of hearing in the case.

"We have started preparations for the polls which may take place in January. The central leadership has been informed that we are ready for polls," a senior Delhi BJP leader said.

The Election Commission on Saturday had announced bypoll to three assembly constituencies on November 25 but if the Lt Governor dissolves the assembly then the bypolls will not take place.

Last week, Delhi BJP General Secretary Ramesh Bidhuri had said the party might turn down any offer by the Lt Governor to form government.

Asserting that the party has strengthened its support base significantly since the assembly polls in December last year, a number of BJP leaders said majority of party workers in the city are fully prepared to face the election again.

The Lt Governor last month had sent a report to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking permission to invite the BJP to form government in Delhi.

In the report, Jung gave a detailed analysis of the political situation and underlined the need to have an elected government in the city which is under President's Rule since February 17 following resignation of the Aam Aadmi Party government which was in power for 49 days.

The BJP has been officially maintaining that it will take a decision on government formation in Delhi after getting an invite from the Lt Governor.

Sources in BJP said a number of central leaders as well as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were not in favour of forming government by "managing the numbers" and indicated to the state leadership to get ready for elections.

In his report to Mukherjee, the Lt Governor said though no party has staked claim to form government in Delhi, BJP could be invited to take the reins as it is the single largest party in the assembly.

Jung observed that all options for putting in place an elected government should be explored before contemplating holding of fresh polls.

Currently BJP, along with ally Akali Dal's lone MLA, has 29 legislators and will require the support of five more MLAs to prove majority in the assembly.

The government led by Arvind Kejriwal had resigned on 14 February after the party's pet project, the Jan Lokpal Bill, could not be passed due to opposition from BJP and Congress.

President's Rule was imposed in Delhi on February 17.

The Lt Governor had not favoured dissolution of the Delhi assembly as recommended by the council of ministers headed by Kejriwal and kept the assembly in suspended animation.

Congress and Aam Aadmi Party have been demanding immediate dissolution of the assembly to pave way for holding of fresh election.  

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